There has been a lot of debate around the farm lately about whether or not to continue raising chickens for meat. We have gone through the pros and cons list in our own individual minds and in conversation around the dinner table. Cornish Cross or Rangers? 800 or 200? Build new chicken tractors or patch up the old ones? Use the same brooder house set up or repurpose an existing building to fit the needs of the little baby chicks?
Of all the things on the farm, meat birds are the highest maintenance. They require a lot of attention. Feed, water, moving the chicken tractors and fencing each day... and then there is the processing. It is an emotionally and physically tasking day to load up, slaughter, package, and organize the freezers. Child care needs to be arrange, requests for days off from town jobs, and of course someone needs to be on farm throughout the day to care for all the other animals.
If you had asked me last week if we would have chickens available this summer, I would have told you flatly, "No, it's just impossible." Then I sat down to dinner with my family over a big pot of roast chicken, potatoes and turnips and I realized that if I was to ever eat roast chicken again, I would have to raise it myself.
So this morning I sat down and planned out our 2016 chicken schedule. I ordered a few hundred chicks and noted on the calendar their ship date and approximate slaughter dates. After a third cup of coffee, I looked out the window at all the work that needs to be done before the first batch arrives on March 23rd. I suppose there is no changing my mind at this point, so yes... we will have chickens available this summer.